New COVID-19 measures are in place in Alberta. Here's what's changing.
Most restrictions will be in place for at least 3 weeks
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney introduced a slew of new public-health restrictions this week to help slow a recent spike in COVID-19 cases driven by coronavirus variants.
Many of the rules will be familiar to Albertans and were in place at times during the first and second waves of the pandemic.
The new restrictions will apply in most parts of the province. However, communities with active case rates lower than 50 cases per 100,000 people, and with fewer than 30 active cases, aren't subject to some of the new rules.
Most restrictions will be in place for at least three weeks.
Starting today, all kindergarten to Grade 12 schools will move to online learning, with a return to in-class learning planned for May 25. Some junior high and high schools were already learning at home, but now all students are online.
Post-secondary classes are also online, as of Wednesday. There is no known end date for when in-person classes will return, though many classes were already online before the change.
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All indoor fitness is prohibited, including one-on-one training, as of Wednesday. Indoor recreation and performance will be restricted as of May 9.
Dining on a restaurant or bar patio will no longer be allowed starting Monday. In-person dining had already been banned last month, so restaurants will now be able to offer only take-out or delivery.
Most communities in the province are considered "high-case regions" and have stricter measures in place.
In those communities, outdoor gatherings are capped at five people, with a maximum of two household cohorts. Physical distancing must be observed at all times. In lower COVID-19 case regions, 10 people is the limit.
Outdoor recreation is banned in high-case regions, except with members of your household. Individual activities like running or cycling are allowed and outdoor facilities like tennis courts and tracks can be open, unless closed by a public health order.
As of Wednesday, retail stores are capped at 10 per cent of fire code capacity, or a minimum of five customers. In low-case regions, the limit is 15 per cent of fire code capacity.
By the end of Sunday, all personal and wellness services such as hair salons, barbers, nail salons and tattoo parlours must close in high-case regions. In other regions they can open by appointment only.
Health services, such as physicians, massage therapists or athletic therapists are also by appointment only in all regions, as are professional services like lawyers and photographers.
In high-case regions, places of worship must cap capacity at 15 people, with physical distancing maintained, though in lower-case regions it's still 15 per cent of capacity.
Funerals are capped at 10 people in the targeted regions, 20 people in lower-case areas. Wedding ceremonies are limited to 10 people in all regions. Receptions for both funerals and weddings are prohibited.
The new measures are layered on previous restrictions. Rules that Albertans have been required to follow for months — such as no indoor gatherings and mandatory masking — are still in place and may remain in effect beyond the three-week minimum.
Though areas with fewer COVID-19 cases may not have as many restrictions, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw confirmed Thursday that those areas will be subject to the enhanced measures if cases reach the threshold.
The province has also doubled fines for violating health restrictions to $2,000, and a new enforcement protocol has been established to target people not complying with orders.